Kick in the Ass

That’s it. I am convinced. There is no way you can convince me otherwise. Kickers are the most mentally weak athletes on the planet. I came to this conclusion Sunday when Mike Vanderjagt, the NFL’s all time best kicker, missed the game winning kick wide right. It wasn’t just that he didn’t put it through the uprights; he didn’t even hit the back net. It wasn’t even slightly close. If Michael Jordan is on the free throw line with that game on the line he makes that shot. If Barry Bonds is up in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line he hits a homerun. If Wayne Gretsky is the last man up in a shootout he scores. If Tiger needs the putt to win he makes it. When it is 4th and 5 with 26 seconds left in the National Championship Vince Young doesn’t slip. What does the greatest kicker in the game do in the clutch? He hits the second worst kick I have ever seen, the worst coincidently also a potential game tying kick by Kris Brown earlier this season with no time left on the clock. What is it about this type of athlete that makes them suck so bad in the clutch?

The thing about kickers is you see them come out in warm ups and the hit every single kick. They may miss one or two the entire warm up from both hashes and all distances. They get in the game and during the first three quarters they are fairly consistent. They hit nearly all extra points and most field goals. But if you take the percentage of kicks they hit in quarters 1-3 and the percentage of kicks they hit when the game is on the line in the 4th quarter the percent change would be atrocious. And the reality is, it’s all mental. Is the ball any different shape than it was pregame? Are the goalposts narrower? Are the hashes any wider? Are their legs any weaker? Is the air any thicker? No. Nothing is physically different between when they hit that ball in the pregame and when they hit it in the 4th quarter. It’s all a matter of perception. Psychologically you let yourself get psyched out into thinking it is harder. Real athletes step it up in the clutch. Take Shaq’s overall free throw percentage and compare it to his free throw percentage in the last two minutes of tight games. His percentage in the clutch gets better. There are two ways to respond to that pressure. You can ignore it and try to perform the same as you always do, which would be a great improvement in the performance of kickers. Or you can use that self imposed pressure to step up your game. Real athletes thrive under that pressure.

The mistake football coaches make is that their kickers aren’t football players. They are usually soccer players. This makes them inherently mentally weak and because they are not football players they usually do not have the respect of their teammates which hurts their confidence even further. I think they should go back to the old days when position players were also kickers. When on fourth down it was the quarterback that lined up for the kick not some 150 lbs European born soccer player who has had close to nothing to do with the game up to this point. The soccer guy may have the edge in the first three quarters but down the stretch I am taking the quarterback every time.

I get mad when I watch an entire football game and it ends with a kicker missing a 37 yard kick they made 10 consecutive times pregame under different circumstances. In Jimmy Johnson’s book he fumes about the fact that often times close games come down the kicker. He talks about all the work players put in during the off-season, two-a-days, film study, and in the actual game and then often times it comes down to a guy who for all intents and purposes isn’t a part of the team.

Skip Bayless wrote an article for ESPN arguing PATs and Field Goals should be eliminated from the game. Kickoffs and Punts can stay which both duties are often performed by a punter anyways which is a breed of humans one rung up from place-kickers. Punting requires that you catch the equivalent of a 15 yard pass and both punting and kicking off require the occasional tackle or in the case of Greg Johnson, the frequent tackle. Bayless put it this way:

“I'm not in the least bit kidding. I say kick kickers out of football. They're the only flaw in my favorite game. But what an incomprehensible flaw this is.

Giant, gifted men battle their guts out playing a violent game, and the outcome is all too often decided by some former soccer player who has absolutely nothing to do with football. No football talent. No football heart. No football mind.”

On Christmas Eve I was watching the Cowboys game with my parents when of course numb nut kicker Billy Cundiff misses a critical field goal. My mom understands the game fairly well and she has no tolerance for kickers missing field goals. She got so pissed. She asked if a guy’s job, his profession, his career, is to kick a leather ball between metal poles why can’t they do that every time. She then came to the conclusion that you find a kicker and pledge to pay them $6 million. $6,000,000!!! easily making them the highest paid kicker in the game by a factor of 3 or 4. BUT, and here is the kicker (pardon the pun), for every miss they have to pay back $1 million. I told her that there is no way that would work because the kickers would end up paying the teams instead of the other way around. Although I do like the idea.

-hj

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One Response to “Kick in the Ass”

  1. n0aru Says:

    hey, first of all, i just signed up to this blogger so that i can comment on your nonsense.

    I mean cmon man..u r that big fan of footbal (american) that it clearly messes with ur mind.

    Its not just me, but i think that ppl like u (students, youth and such from america) that r so obssesed with something so puny like some friggin footbal…by the way, why do u call it football anyway? Most of the time u r just running with ball in hands so why football? Soccer on the other hand is played entirely with foot…so why do u have to call it soccer? i mean u all must be so into ur self (dont wanna insult or anything πŸ™‚ but cmon man. And whats with all that assumptions, if something is like that, than everything is like that, u r student on a respected univeristy (i am wondering if thats the case) and if not anything else, u should have had ur mind cleard, but as u r saying…sportsmen r not really that smart or in ur case sportfans…those u should be worrying about (but u r clearley one of them…I say this base on ur post, not anything else)

    All i wanted to do is comment to ur way of writing,posting, thinking, assuming…in this particular post about NFL or smtg.

    Oh and i am also a student, from europe (if u know where that is), from a place u most certanly dont know. A little country called Slovenia. How did i stumble across ur blog?…pure coincident.

    I hope ur studying is going well, ull need that. U r a part of knowledge society, with high percent of ppl with almost zero knowledge ( i wonder why) so iam thinking u must be ok overall πŸ˜€

    have a nice time…and best regards from Slovenia.

    P.S.: Try finding Slovenia on a map…i dare u :hehe, joke.–>

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